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Sunday 17 September 2023

Forty Minutes of World Of Twist

World Of Twist have come up in my internet world a couple of times recently and it seemed too good an opportunity to resist to sling some of their best moments together into a single forty minute mix, one side of a C90 tape in old money. The group's back catalogue is fairly slim- a 1991 album, Quality Street, a handful of singles and remixes and a pair of BBC radio sessions, one for John Peel and one for Mark Goodier. My first encounter with them was on a Manchester compilation album, the swirling song The Storm already getting mentions in the music press. After that I bought everything they released, seeing them live twice, once in Liverpool and once in Manchester. 

World Of Twist formed in Sheffield in 1985, disintegrated, and then reformed in Manchester in 1989, many of the members living in the Withington/ Didsbury area where I grew up. The line up of singer Tony Ogden, guitarist Gordon King, Andrew Hobson on synths, Alan Frost (FX, visuals, synths), MC Shells aka Julia on 'swirls and sea noises', Angela Reilly (visuals) and drummer Nick Sanderson found press and a record contract quickly, caught up in the feeding frenzy of late 80s Manchester. They took the driving rhythms of northern soul, 80s indie rock and late 60s psychedelia, the end of the pier, faded glamour of seaside towns like Blackpool and fused it all together. Their live shows had slide shows and projections, trippy effects, glitter curtains and rotating signs with the words Rock And Roll on them. Tony Ogden, floppy hair centre parted and black leather jacket, had a stage stance that was like a young Elvis (if Elvis had been from Stockport rather than Tupelo). They finished their live gigs with a cover of The MC5's Kick Out The Jams. If Pulp (who travelled a similar road to much greater success) had covered Kick Out The Jams it would have been draped in knowing irony, Jarvis giving it high leg kicks and an arched eyebrow. World Of Twist, after an ascending Blackpool Ballroom organ intro, attack Kick Out The Jams in deadly seriousness. I really liked them. 

There was a feeling that Quality Street missed the boat. By 1991 the Manchester tide was going out and the album, largely produced by Richard Norris and Dave Ball of The Grid with Martin Moscrop of A Certain Ratio and Cliff Brigden also at the desk, never seemed to be loud enough, no matter how much you turned your volume knob. The press went from full blooded praise to very lukewarm in months.  They called it a day in 1992 when, having begun work on a second album, Tony decided he didn't want to sing any more. Gordon King and Nick Sanderson went on to Earl Brutus. Sadly two members are no longer with us- Tony Ogden died in 2006 and Nick Sanderson in 2008. 

Forty Minutes Of World Of Twist

  • The Storm
  • Lose My Way
  • Blackpool Tower (John Peel Session 1991)
  • She's A Rainbow (12" Version)
  • This Too Shall Pass Away (Chat)
  • Sweets (Barratt 200 Mix)
  • I'm A Teardrop
  • Sons Of The Stage (12" Version)
  • On The Scene
  • Kick Out The Jams (Live at St. Andrew's University 1991)
The Storm was on the demo tape that got them a deal. It came out several times as a single with their cover of She's A Rainbow on the B-side, variously with Martin Hannett and/ or The Grid on production duties and Hugo Nicolson and Spencer Birtwistle from Intastella engineering. It starts with thunder and sound effects, then the swirly organ and rapid fire drums kick in. Indie night floor filler. 

Lose My Way opened Quality Street, a strong start to the album with its trumpet part, hammering four four drums and Tony's full throttle vocal and lyrics about love and lust. On The Scene is from the album too, an album track that is the closest they came to the Manchester sound, swirly indie- dance from 1991. 

Blackpool Tower is from a John Peel session, 25th June 1991 along with versions of Lose My Way, St Bruno (otherwise unreleased) and Kick Out The Jams. Blackpool Tower became part of a ten minute song called Blackpool Tower Suite, released on 12" in late 1990 with The Storm and She's Rainbow.

She's A Rainbow was one of their signature tunes and the record company threw it out multiple times looking for a hit. It's a cover of a 1967 Rolling Stones song, one of highlights of the Their Satanic Majesty's Request album, and one of Martin Hannett's last production jobs. The 12" version opens with some lovely, gnarly distorted guitar before the famous piano line comes in. 

This Too Shall Pass Away was the B-side to the single Sweets (and in its 'proper' form appears on Quality Street). The song is a cover of a 1964 Honeycombs single. On the Chat version Tony's vocals have been replaced by samples of people talking about Norman Wisdom, gardening, artichokes and potatoes and other everyday matters. 

Sweets was a sugary pop song, lovely stuff. The Barratt 200 Mix  came out on the 12" and CD single.

I'm A Teardrop is a great little song, recorded for a Mark Goodier session in September 1990, two and a half minutes of indie- guitar pop. 

Sons Of The Stage was on the album and a single and if it was all they had ever released, it would be more than enough. Like Hawkwind streamlined and rebooted for the early 90s, the song is a rush of indie dance, northern soul and early 70s sci fi psychedelia. It's a magnificent achievement. Tony's lyrics describe the sensation of being the singer on stage, with the band powering away around him and the crowd a seething mass in front of him. 'The beat breaks down so we pick it up/ The floor shakes down but it's not enough/ The beam is up and kids are high/ I see them move and it blows my mind/ The floor's an ocean and this wave is breaking/ The head is gone and your body's shaking/ There's nothing you can do 'cos there is no solution/ You gotta get down to the noise and confusion...Out of our minds on the stage...'

Kick Out The Jams is a cover of The MC5's famous high octane 1969 song. This recording is live, from a gig at St. Andrew's University in 1991, World Of Twist marrying their devotion to music with the rundown pleasures of British seaside resorts, utter conviction. Kick 'em out. 


Walter said...

I have to admit that this band is new to me but I liked what I heard. Thank you for introducing them to me, Adam

KevM said...

Shame these didn't get the production or promotion they deserved. They could at least have had a few big hits, made some money and left a bigger impression on the era. GLR played Storm, Sons and Rainbow a fair bit but I got the singles from the bargain bins.

Lard played this recently https://youtu.be/_lcFq7Rtx0M?si=F8XPYYFj2AjN7Fuf
I pictured that he'd inadvertently left WoT playing on the other turntable.

KevM said...

(that's Jane Weaver, Electric Mountain btw. I expected a thumbnail to show)

Swiss Adam said...

That's a good spot Kev, the line between WOT and Jane Weaver.

Anonymous said...

Birth those Fluke mixes of She's A Rainbow are wonderful too. Michael

Khayem said...

Superb selection, Adam, I really enjoyed listening to this. World Of Twist were such a great band, though the album didn't do them justice. The 12" Mix of The Storm is just brilliant and the Fluke remixes of She's A Rainbow among the best they've ever done. As for Sons Of The Stage...spot on.

Anonymous said...

I forgot about the Fluke remixes. Very much my bad.

Khayem said...

I think you were spoiling us already with the WoT selection. Besides, a good excuse to save one for an upcoming Sunday Fluke mix, methinks...